Yakima County survey shows 69% of shoppers are wearing masks

Yakima
AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

A sign requiring the use of masks is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.

YAKIMA, Wash. — While the percentage of local shoppers who wear masks while indoors is higher than it was in August, a survey from the Yakima County Healthcare Coalition shows that masking rates are significantly lower than they were a year ago.

According to the study, 69% of 1,194 shoppers at 29 retail sites wore their masks inside of stores. Yakima Valley Memorial officials say this is a higher rate than they observed in August.

Whether that rise is attributed to lowering temperatures, the emergence of the Delta/Omicron variants, or other outside elements was not factored into the study. However, they should be considered when comparing statistics from months prior.

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The lowest masking rate was recorded at an unspecified store in Granger, where just 31% of shoppers wore their masks. The second-lowest rate was at a large grocery store in Yakima, where only 36% of shoppers wore their masks.

Inversely, the highest masking rates at singular retail locations were at stores in Yakima (98%) and Wapato (97%).

Rhonda Hauff, Co-chair of the Yakima County Healthcare Coalition, expressed the importance of wearing masks to reduce community transmission amid new variants that target high-risk individuals.

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“Just a few weeks after the Governor reinstated the mask mandate on August 23, the precipitous rise in COVID cases in Yakima County began to drop. This is proof that masks work,” Hauff said. “We encourage everyone to wear masks indoors in public places, regardless of their vaccination status.”

Researchers from the Yakima County Healthcare Coalition observed that women generally have a higher rate of mask use than men in the region. Officials say that wearing a mask is one way to be a good neighbor while protecting yourself from the virus more than a year and a half after the pandemic started.

Health leaders also highlighted the adaptability of the coronavirus through the omicron variant, which has been detected in Western Washington already. The Healthcare Coalition refers to masking as “a simple but crucial tool in our fight against this virus.”

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